U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

SunShot Initiative

Flexible Assembly Solar Technology

BrightSource Energy logo Rendering of the FAST system as it would be delivered and set up at a project site.

The FAST system will reduce the overall cost to build and install heliostats and eliminate the need for a complex assembly facility. Image from BrightSource Energy

BrightSource Energy, under the 2012 SunShot Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) R&D FOA, is designing and deploying an automated collector-assembly platform. The researchers are also developing a more efficient installation process that has the potential to drastically reduce construction time and cost for utility-scale CSP facilities.

Approach

BrightSource's research objective is to design, build, and demonstrate a Flexible Assembly Solar Technology (FAST) system that can substantially reduce the cost and time associated with solar-field construction. FAST accelerates the heliostat assembly and field installation processes by combining elements of both functions on a single platform with direct access to the solar collector field. The system incorporates:

  • Preliminary, partial assembly of the mirror units at a centralized offsite facility capable of supplying multiple CSP projects
  • An automated, transportable FAST platform for assembly completion
  • Delivery of the fully completed assemblies into the solar field for final installation.

By eliminating the conventional heliostat assembly building (HAB), FAST substantially reduces solar-field construction time and cost, reduces the need for onsite storage, and avoids costs related to permitting, construction, maintenance, operation, and demolition of the HAB. The FAST process also allows for flexible deployment to multiple power tower sites in accordance with project design and schedules. In addition, FAST will complement and enable a next-generation heliostat design, thereby leveraging further cost reductions.

Innovation

The novelty of the project is in the application of automation processes to solar project sites. The system is integrated with the design of the new, low-cost heliostat, which is modified to facilitate FAST assembly. The system enables deployment of collectors that lend themselves to automated manufacturing, minimal site preparation, and rapid installation. This project addresses crucial barriers to cost and risk reduction to meet the SunShot Initiative's target installed solar-field cost of $75 per square meter.

Publications, Patents, and Awards

At this time, this project does not have published articles, patents, or awards.

SunShot logo

The SunShot CSP R&D program seeks to accelerate progress toward the cost target of $0.06 per kilowatt-hour through novel and revolutionary research into CSP technologies. Learn about other DOE competitive awards for concentrating solar power research that are in progress.